Makes 1-1.2 litres (US: about a quart)
80-85g unsalted cashews (US: 1/2 cup plus a few extra)
About a litre of water
Extra water for soaking and rinsing
Note: You need a fairly high-powered blender for this; it's possible with an immersion blender but a bit messy. A food processor might work, but a good blender is best.
Put the cashews in a container with enough water to cover them well. Place in the refrigerator for 18-24 hours (or longer).
When you are ready to make the cashew milk, drain away the soak water through a sieve, and rinse the cashews thoroughly under running water. They will be quite soft by this time.
Place the cashews in the blender with enough water to cover.
Remember to put on the lid!
Milk starts to form almost immediately, but bits of cashew will fly up around the sides, so remove the jug from the blender and carefully drizzle water around the insides to wash it all down and into the milk.
Blend again until well combined.
Pour the resultant milk into a jug (US: pitcher) that holds about a litre or more (US: a quart) then use more water to rinse out the blender and add this to the milk until the container is full. Cover.
Keeps in the fridge for at least four days.
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The above instructions hardly seem like a recipe, as cashew milk is so very simple. When we first started using non-dairy milks, due to lactose intolerance in the family, we began with almond milk, which I liked very much, but it was a bit of a hassle to make. Moreover, there was all that almond meal left over each time. I used some of it in granola, and some for other recipes that needed ground almonds, but I wondered if there was any nutritional value at all in the milk.
Then we discovered coconut milk from desiccated coconut, which was simpler and very good indeed in coffee. I used the leftover coconut meal as an extra sprinkle on granola, so there was no wastage, but we found that it didn't really work in some recipes. Or rather, it worked, but there was a strong coconut taste. I like coconut, but it's not always appropriate. It's very strange in cauliflower cheese, for instance.
Then I read about cashew milk, where there's no need to strain at all; the cashews become so soft with soaking that there's almost no residue. Having said that, the milk does settle somewhat, and the 'cream' sinks to the bottom. It's a good idea to stir it before use; sometimes if mine becomes very creamy towards the end of its use, I stir in some extra water. But the creamier milk is extremely good on granola.
Cashews are high in monounsaturated fat, and also - my research tells me - high in trace elements such as copper, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. More importantly, it makes an excellent and inexpensive milk that can be used in drinks and in cooking, and has such a mild flavour that it's almost indistinguishable from dairy milk.
The most important thing is to give the cashews plenty of time to soak. The first time I made this, I gave them about eight hours and it wasn't enough; the milk was gritty. The second time I gave them 24 hours - longer than I had intended - and the milk was excellent. Sometimes my cashews soak for 48 hours - two entire days - if I think we're running out earlier than we actually do.
I only occasionally make almond milk now, but I do continue making coconut milk, usually right after I've made cashew milk; one litre of each usually lasts two of us about four to five days.